Federal safety regulators have instructed US LNG export player Cheniere Energy to remove from service two of five liquefied natural gas storage tanks at its Sabine Pass terminal following a gas leak last month.
Tank S-103 at the Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana released LNG on January 22 into the space between the inner and outer tank walls, which eventually caused cracks in the outer tank wall and the pooling of LNG in the secondary containment area surrounding the tank, according to an order by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Exposure of LNG to the carbon steel outer tank resulted in the cooling of the outer tank wall to a temperature far below its design temperature of-25° F and the formation of four separately-identifiable cracks.
These cracks propagated to a length of approximately one to six feet in length in a short amount of time, the order dated February 8 said.
After launching an investigation into the release, the PHMSA learned that Tank S102 had also previously experienced releases of LNG.
“This raises the possibility that the conditions which resulted in the incident may be present in multiple tanks,” PHMSA said.
LNG World News invited Cheniere for a comment regarding the incident.
“Safety is Cheniere’s number one priority, and we want to stress that there was and is no immediate danger to our community, workforce, or our facility from this incident, nor is there any impact on LNG production,” Cheniere spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder said.
“Cheniere has initiated an event investigation and is currently working with experts on a repair plan. We will continue to work with PHMSA to quickly address this incident,” he added.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a notice on February 9 that Sabine Pass must receive written authorization before placing the two tanks back into service.
“Such authorization will only be granted following a determination that the storage tanks are fit for service,” the notice said.
The five tanks at Sabine Pass have about 3.4 billion cubic feet equivalent capacity, each.
Cheniere’s Sabine Pass facility is the first liquefaction and export facility and currently the only such facility to ship U.S. shale gas overseas.
There are four 0.6-Bcfd liquefaction trains operating at Sabine Pass, and a fifth is under construction and expected to enter service in mid-2019. Cheniere also plans to start its Corpus Christi plant next year.
LNG World News Staff